Gender pay gaps widen in statewide offices

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Gender pay gaps widen in statewide offices

The average pay gap between men and women in the offices of four of Ohio’s five elected statewide officials has grown as high as nearly $10 an hour, while across state government the gap has shrunk to an average of 86 cents an hour, a Dayton Daily News investigation shows.

Women working in Gov. John Kasich’s office earn on average $9.81 an hour less than the men — the highest gender pay gap among the state’s five elected statewide officeholders, according to data from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

The gap is more than twice the $3.99 an hour inequity under former Gov. Ted Strickland in 2010.

The Kasich administration says that the gap was really just $5.04 an hour last year when the analysis includes both office staff and policy advisers from other state agencies who are doing work for the governor’s office. Using those same parameters, the gap under Strickland would have been $1.28 an hour in 2010.

Kasich’s likely Democratic opponent in the November election, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, has a gender pay gap of $7.02 an hour between men and women in his office, which is high when compared to the offices of the state auditor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general.

The national debate over pay differences between men and women was center stage last week as the Senate failed to pass a bill seeking to narrow the pay gap.

Republican lawmakers said the measure could hinder employers from granting raises, or permitting flexible hours in exchange for lower pay, for fear of costly lawsuits. For Democrats, the bill was the latest stressing income-fairness they are pushing this campaign season.

Overall gap decreases

Across state employment, the pay gap has averaged $1.09 over the past seven years and most recently was 86 cents an hour.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said, “The governor is proud of having a strong female chief of staff, an excellent lieutenant governor in Mary Taylor and strong, capable women in key cabinet positions. Additionally, the wage gap for state employees has dropped 20 percent on his watch.

“This is all good progress, but we’ve got to keep pushing further. Diversity isn’t something you achieve and then move on, it’s a value to which you must continually commit yourself and it’s something this administration values and continues to pursue.”

FitzGerald employs a staff of 25, including 17 men who earn on average $7.02 an hour more than the eight women in the office, according to data provided by FitzGerald’s office. Cuyahoga County employs 4,558 workers, 57 percent of whom are women. Countywide, the gender pay gap is $2.29 an hour.

Last month, FitzGerald said in a campaign press release that persistent pay inequity for women hurts middle class families.

“Rather than focus on passing income tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy, our legislature needs to pass meaningful reform that will allow Ohio’s women to earn equal pay for equal work. Because when women succeed, Ohio succeeds,” he said.

The governor has the smallest number of employees out of the five statewide offices so just a few outliers can skew the averages. The same is true in FitzGerald’s office. If Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson, who makes $109 an hour, is excluded from the analysis, the pay gap drops to $3.82 an hour.

The examination does not take into account men and women appointed by Kasich or FitzGerald to lead government departments, just those who work in their offices.

Comparing offices

The Dayton Daily News examined state payroll data for 2010 — the last full year of the previous administrations — and 2013 and found that Kasich’s office isn’t the only place where the pay gap is growing:

  • In the auditor’s office, the gap grew to $1.38 an hour under Republican Dave Yost, up from $1.05 under Republican Mary Taylor.
  • In the secretary of state’s office, the gap increased to $2.77 an hour under Republican Jon Husted, up from $2.37 under Democrat Jennifer Brunner.
  • In the treasurer’s office, the gap went up to $1.06 an hour favoring men under Republican Josh Mandel, up from a penny per hour in favor of women under Democrat Kevin Boyce.
  • The pay gap shrunk in the attorney general’s office under Republican Mike DeWine to $4.81 an hour, down from $4.94 an hour under Democrat Richard Cordray.

 

Mandel noted that his office has the highest-paid female staff of all the statewide officeholders and the lowest pay gap.

Forty-two percent of Mandel’s employees in 2013 were female, down from 55 percent in 2010 under Boyce. State records show Mandel had 30 fewer employees in the treasurer’s office in 2013 than Boyce did in 2010. During that period, 35 women left the treasurer’s office and Mandel hired five more men so the reduction in staff fell heavily on women.

Additionally, 10 of 14 interns employed by Mandel in 2013 were male and they were assigned more hours and made on average 44 cents an hour more than the four female interns.

“They’re interns. They’re all doing the same sorts of stuff. And they (the men) are getting more opportunities and more money for it,” said state Rep. Connie Pillich, D-Cincinnati, who is sponsoring a pay equity bill and is running against Mandel for state treasurer this year.

Mandel spokesman Seth Unger did not answer questions about why male interns are paid more, why a pay gap developed and why so many women left the treasurer’s office. Instead, Unger noted that Boyce’s deputy treasurer, Amer Ahmad, was convicted of bribery alongside a lobbyist, whose wife served as Ahmad’s secretary.

“In order to clean up this mess, Treasurer Mandel has chosen to put trustworthy, high-integrity people in positions of leadership, including many women running core financial departments. These women have made significant contributions to the positive results and culture of character in the office, and as a whole women in the Mandel Administration are paid 15 percent higher than the average hourly wage for females in state government,” Unger said in a written statement.

Ahmad was convicted of steering state work worth $3.2 million to a high school friend in exchange for $532,000 in kickbacks.

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Election issue

Officeholders bring their own people into management positions and decide their pay. But their offices also have civil servants and employees represented by a union and their pay is set by rules and contracts. And Kasich, Husted and Yost each have women serving as their chief of staff.

Liz Watson, director of workplace justice for women at the National Women’s Law Center, said pay gaps in the public sector tend to be smaller than in the private sector because there is more transparency about wages.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats are working to make pay equity a high-profile issue during the 2014 midterm elections. In the Ohio General Assembly, Pillich is advocating for the Ohio Equal Pay Act. She sent a letter to Ohio-based Macy’s to urge its leadership to cease lobbying against pay equity efforts in Texas, and recently wrote an opinion piece on the pay gap for Ohio newspapers.

Watson said pay equity is a worthy goal.

“It’s been more than 50 years now since Congress outlawed pay discrimination with the Equal Pay Act of 1963. We still see women earning less than men in nearly every single occupation, and this is despite the fact that there are more women in the workforce than ever before, and despite the fact that women have increasing levels of education we still see profound differences between men and women,” Watson said.

“That isn’t right and that isn’t fair. I think we need to achieve equal pay by eliminating discrimination against women who are working in the same jobs as men. That discrimination is still very persistent today.”

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